What is this?
A two-year roadmap for our generation to transform the way young people are involved in the political process on college campuses across the country.
We have been working tirelessly this past academic year to “test” the GenVote Model of Engagement on college campuses across New York. We built our first GenVote “prototype teams,” worked our way through Binghamton’s business accelerator program, and won the Social Entrepreneurship category in the Southern Tier Regional Business Plan Competition. We believed in slow, strategic growth to make sure that our model for engaging young people worked. And this past year proved that it does.
Our students knocked on thousands of doors, called thousands of voters, registered hundreds of students, held town halls, and even ran — and won — elected local office. Our teams smashed records for on-campus and off-campus turnout and flipped one of the closest congressional races in the country. And in New York, our students were at the core of organizing young people around the first voter reform efforts in over a hundred years. GenVoters proved that our generation can step up and change the future of our communities.
In 2019, we will launch GenVote teams in communities across the country, with a focus on communities with high potential for youth engagement in swing states. This roadmap to 2020 lays out our objectives for the next two years. It is a living, breathing, iteration of our vision for changing the way our generation engages in local politics.
Are you as excited about tapping into the power of civic engagement as we are? Sign up and learn more at genvote.org.
What do we do?
If we want to see progressive change, we need to be educated on the issues affecting our communities, mobilize around our ideas, support candidates that reflect our views and connect our movements. Our three-pronged approach is simple:
Educate. We provide tools for young people to change the outcomes of elections. We will realize the potential of our generation through innovative and interactive trainings on student constituency organizing, communications strategy, student opinions research, field strategy, and so much more.
Mobilize. Empower our generation by mobilizing support for progressive candidates that endorse our local Youth Platforms. Through our collective power, we will transform local political landscapes by using colleges, universities and high schools as mobilizing centers for local GenVote teams.
Connect. Create a network of GenVote teams across the country that connect and learn from other energetic, innovative and eager youth leaders working on policies and campaigns. We will build an online platform that will allow our teams to transform the way young people organize in local electoral politics.
What is the GenVote Model?
To help our generation achieve this, we have created a new model for youth civic engagement that disrupts the political process, empowers young people to take control of the narrative, and change the direction of our local communities. The GenVote model of engagement is a five-step process:
- Start a GenVote team in your community: GenVote teams are made up of 5–14 student staff members and are led by a student Team Leader on college campuses. The unique leadership structure of our teams gives students the opportunity to hold key leadership positions (such as Student Constituency Organizers, Communications Directors, Student Opinions Research Directors), specialize in a specific field and develop crucial skills to run youth-oriented campaigns in their community.
- Understand the issues through innovative student opinions research: To understand the issues affecting young people in our local communities, GenVote teams are at the forefront of local student opinions research on their college campuses. Our students work with faculty advisers and National Staff to build a comprehensive polling program to understand the issues affecting young people in their communities.
- Build Youth Platforms: We believe that the next generation of leaders do not have to wait to make their voices heard. Our teams elevate the voices of our generation by working with local stakeholders, using our local opinions research efforts to build local “Youth Platforms” and creating campaign narratives that focus on our vision for our communities.
- Partner with candidates running for local office: College campuses and high schools are a highly underutilized resource for candidates that choose to stand up for issues that our generation cares about. Our GenVote teams partner with progressive candidates running for local office who endorse Youth Platforms and are willing to elevate youth voices in their campaign.
- Have a Seat at the Table: Our work does not end on Election Day. Our students are advocating for their Youth Platforms in the halls of city and state government. Our teams are involved in statewide coalitions to expand voting access in our communities and to protect the youth vote in critical states.
How will we do it?
To launch a new progressive movement on college campuses across the country, we need to think big. Here are our objectives for the next two years:
OBJECTIVE: Launch GenVote teams on campuses across the country with high potential for youth engagement in critical states.
- Recruit 10 new Team Leaders to start GenVote Teams by December 2019, expanding to Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Minnesota, and Michigan.
- Strengthen GenVote network in New York, focusing on recruiting 3 new schools in New York City.
- Recruit 15 new Team Leaders to start GenVote Teams by 2020, expanding to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Colorado.
- Establish GenVote pipeline program with at least 2 other partner organizations, focusing on organizations that represent high school juniors and seniors in communities of color.
- Focus recruitment efforts for new Team Leaders in “local swing states”
In 2019 we plan to target what we refer to as “local swing states” with potential for youth engagement. These are states in which at least a 30% of house districts are considered swing districts and at least 30% of counties with greater than 50,000 residents are rated at a 4 or higher for youth engagement on CIRCLE’s RAYSE index.
While we will focus on establishing GenVote teams at universities in critical states, we will not limit our movement to just a handful of states. If a student, faculty member, or candidate wants to help start a GenVote team in their community, we will work with them to implement our program, regardless of their location.
- Increase access for student organizers with community organizing stipends.
Organizing is hard. Organizing as a college or high school student, without full-time pay, is even harder. Although our prototype teams have accomplished incredible things without being paid, we believe in expanding access to organizing to all students, regardless of their financial background. To make sure we’re building an inclusive movement, we will pilot need-based stipends through our GenVote model in target states. We want to make sure everyone can contribute their voices, no matter their means.
OBJECTIVE: Equip GenVote students with concrete tools to change the outcomes of elections and influence the political process.
- Develop a comprehensive GenVote program with 10 original training modules, and partner with 3 new organizations for programming.
- Pilot an online classroom to make GenVote training modules more accessible.
- Host a webinar series with partner organizations and other experts each semester.
- Continue to host GenVote Summits for our Team Leaders at least once a year.
- Launch national Slack channel for all GenVote members.
- Create an online mobilizing hub for GenVote students to take our organizing to the next level.
- Coordinate a national issue area GenVote campaign around voter reform and protecting the student vote in critical states.
- At least 50% of GenVote teams partner with local progressive candidates running for office.
- Launch a GenVote Academy for candidates and campaign staff members.
- Publish our first National Student Opinions Research report for students, faculty and partner organizations.
OBJECTIVE: Elevate the work of our GenVote students and partners to a national audience.
- Workshop crucial media and digital organizing skills with GenVote Communication Directors and Social Media Coordinators in each GenVote team to increase local press hits.
- Launch the “We are GenVote” blog on our website and social media pages to publish pieces by National Staff, students, and guest authors.
- Engage and inform our supporters with a monthly newsletter.
- Create a series of videos to promote the work of our GenVote students and tell their stories.
- Build a sharp, clean, and consistent Generation Vote brand across all of our platforms.
- Launch our first national GOTV social media campaign.
- Leverage social media platforms to expand our reach to students and candidates in targeted states.
- Provide press and communications support to GenVote teams and affiliated candidates by writing press releases, op-eds, GOTV literature, and absorbing other relevant work for student-focused communications efforts in the lead-up to Election Day.
OBJECTIVE: Build an organization that can support a nationwide movement for young people.
- Launch our 527 to directly support the political work of our GenVote teams and affiliated campaigns.
- Hire a part-time volunteer Communications Coordinator to manage a communications strategy which will broaden our programmatic reach and deepen our impact.
- Hire a part-time volunteer Program Manager — to manage and provide direct support to GenVote Team Leaders and develop new programs with our Executive staff.
- Establish a 501 c(4) and 501 c(3) to expand our educational and engagement initiatives.
- Have salaries for the following full-time staff positions: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Development Officer, Director of Digital Strategy, Senior Program Manager
- Launch GenVote National Student Leadership in target regions around the country.
Who do we work with?
We currently work with several partners who support our program development and strengthen the GenVote Network. For example, to develop our Communications 101 training module, we worked with the Opportunity Agenda, a progressive social communications lab, to develop a training that focuses on narrative building and inclusive messaging. We developed our Student Constituency Organizing training module in consultation with Marshall Ganz from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
To provide our teams with technical tools, we work with motivote to pilot their organizing platform on specific college campuses. Additionally, we are partnering with Y Vote to deliver a select portion of our training modules to a new audience and channel students into our program.
To strengthen our GenVote Network and further our advocacy efforts, we provide students the opportunity to get involved in grassroots coalitions at the state and national level. We are currently an active partner in the Let NY Vote coalition in New York State and a member of the Students Learn, Students Vote coalition.
How much do we need to raise?
Our minimum viable program (MVP) budget for 2019 is $88,500. Our full budget is $332,000. Whatever we raise on top of that will go toward improving program quality, growing our team, and launching on new campuses.
The MVP funds basic program costs and student stipends. We’re putting student funding first. We want to make sure our program is accessible to everyone from the start and we’re willing to dedicate our time and passion to our students while we build the infrastructure to pay our staff. Our budget does not go toward candidates.
The full budget would allow GenVote to shift from an all-volunteer staff to hire three full-time staff to manage operations, fundraising, and programming.
Who are we?
We are millennials, activists, and campaign veterans looking to turn the political process upside-down. We are a network of students conducting original student opinions research on our campuses, advocating for innovative local Youth Platforms, engaging with thousands of student voters and working with local progressive candidates across New York.
We get student organizing because we were student activists ourselves (not too long ago). Fresh out of college, we know what it takes to organize our peers and transform student organizing in our schools, city halls, state legislatures, and local communities…
Brianna Cea (she/her): Co-Founder, CEO. Created the GenVote Model of Engagement as an overly ambitious (highly caffeinated) freshman. Former Regional Coordinator at the Roosevelt Institute. Newman Civic Fellow. Currently a Researcher at the Brennan Center for Justice. Self-proclaimed amateur foodie.
Garrett Shor (he/him): Co-Founder, COO. Original GenVote staff member after Brianna created the GenVote model. Former Outreach Fellow at Democracy Works and Summer Fellow at the Roosevelt Network. Currently a Policy and Communications Associate at JobsFirstNYC. Songwriter, guitarist, and rock-n-roll enthusiast.
Rory Doehring (they/them): CDO (Chief Development Officer). Nonprofit professional with experience in grant-writing and content creation. Former Grants Associate at the Police Athletic League. Currently Communications Associate for the Landscape Architecture Foundation. Completing a Master’s in Communication. Avid reader and crocheter.
Scott Benson (he/him): CTO (Chief Technology Officer). Software developer, communications strategist, and tech-savviest team member. Co-founder and CEO of Study Clash. Freelance web developer. Animal-lover.
We are not doing this alone. We have a fantastic, continuously expanding, network of Advisors to help us build our movement from the ground up and mentor our students:
National Advisory Board:
- Conrad Taylor, City Councilman, Binghamton
- Bushra Amiwala, activist and candidate for School Board District 73.5
- Ramon Contreras, founder of Youth Over Guns and former National Strategist for March for Our Lives
- Cory Ott, former Senior Program Manager, Generation Vote
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2018 was a big year for us. We doubled our teams. We grew our national staff. Our teams made history on their campuses. 2019 is going to be another big year. In the lead up to 2020, which promises to be a momentous year in our history, we will expand our teams further into crucial swing states and grow our national staff. We’ll advocate for election reform across the country, and continue to improve our training program.
We’ve finished prototyping our model. We know it works. It’s time to take it out on the road and make a difference in more communities. But in order for this to happen, we need YOUR help. Now that you’ve read our roadmap to transforming youth civic engagement, get off the sidelines and join our movement today.